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At its regular meeting this week during a discussion of an agenda item entitled “Energy” the members of Warren Planning Commission discussed their support for wind towers in Warren both in the village and in The Valley in general.
At this sparsely attended meeting the commissioners discussed Warren’s Town Plan which supports small scale wind towers and then decided to create a new category called ‘medium scale towers’ (100 feet) which would be allowed in all districts in the town as a permitted (not conditioned) use.
This is a significant change in Warren’s approved Town Plan and one in which voter participation should be encouraged.
It is prudent for planning commissioners to plan for the future of the town and absolutely prudent to consider alternative energy, but especially prudent to create appropriate siting standards for alternative energy installations.
To suggest a blanket town-wide policy where 100 foot wind towers would be a permitted use seems hurried and ill thought out. Consider that this week the Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) went on record with its opposition to any new large wind projects in northern Vermont.
The reason for VEC’s opposition? The state’s existing wind projects have introduced instability into the electrical grid because of intermittent wind. That instability led to the grid operator ISO-New England to curtail electrical output from wind projects in Vermont and New Hampshire.
VEC and Green Mountain Power, its partner in Kingdom Community Wind, have lost about $1 million in electricity sales because of a curtailment caused by intermittent wind.
The Lowell Mountain project which makes up Kingdom County Wind was controversial, expensive and required removing the top of a mountain ridge, installing and a road and hundreds of acres of cement, plus the turbines.
VEC is calling for a three year moratorium on wind projects and perhaps Warren should pay careful attention to this trend before embracing ‘medium scale towers’ so completely.
At a minimum, voter opinions need to be heard. The planning commission meets again on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building.